In Praise of Erica Freas & RVIVR


It’s fall, the weather is erratic, and I’m listening to RVIVR everyday. The Olympia, WA punk outfit has been releasing music for about 8 years, but have just made their way onto my radar recently. They blew the lid off PhilaMOCA this summer, and I’ve been fascinated since.

RVIVR is led by Erica Freas and Mattie Jo Canino (of Long Island’s Latterman). Kevin Rainsberry plays drums, and they have revolving bassist – recently Lou Hanman of Worriers. Freas and Canino share vocal duties. They tour often, and their social media presence is minimal. Freas, up until very recently, has self-released all of their music on her label Rumbletowne Records (who have also worked with the Max Levine Ensemble, Hot Tears, and more), where you can find free downloads of their music.

RVIVR hasn’t had any official releases since 2014’s Bicker and Breathe EP, but Freas and David Combs of Spoonboy and the Max Levine Ensemble released an excellent album as SOMNIA this summer. Don Giovanni Records also just released Patient Onesa solo album by Freas.

Each of RVIVR’s more recent releases – Bicker and Breathe, The Beauty Between, and their self-titled album, begin with a couple minutes of instrumental build-up. The end of the first track is like an anthem, which sets a tone that is held up through the rest of the record. Their lyrics are deeper than many punk bands – take “Spider Song,” which also shows up on Freas’s solo album Belly. It talks about someone you love, but then you “Wake one day to find they’ve faded away / And in the daytime I know I’ve / Faded plenty on my own.” The Beauty Between’s version is backed by sharp guitars that nearly become a part of the lyrics. Belly’s is backed by a guitar and a cello. One is more likely to make you scream along, the other, uncovered and raw, make you cry.

Freas’s solo work features other RVIVR staples, but stands out on its own. Belly preceded The Beauty Between, so there’s hope that new RVIVR is coming soon.  Patient Ones is one of the year’s best releases, and has a lot more new material – some, like “Please Go Walk in the Rain,” you can envision as RVIVR tracks. Don Giovanni is also putting out a remaster of their self-titled LP.

The first time I listened to RVIVR was their Pink Couch recording of “Cut the Cord.” It highlights the emotion they put into their music, and the joy they get out of it. It’s become a go-to PCS, which is incredible considering how many great ones there are.

I have a new favorite song of theirs every week – sometimes every day. I’m continuing my dive in, and I hope you begin yours.